Reg Park's 5x5 ProgramThe Original Strength and Size Routine by the Editors Below are 2 articles about the original 5x5 program as developed by bodybuilding great Reg Park. He got big and strong in the pre-steroid era of strength training. Give it a look. The original routine is a little on the long and tiring side but it can be adapted to fit your level of training and schedule—that is why I included Mike Mahler’s article as well. Enjoy! --JT As far as the popularity of beginner's training programs go, five sets of five reps is right up there with 3x10, 10x3, and the ever-lasting 1x20 squat program, which inspired the weight room battle-cry, "Squats and milk!" A few years ago, Dan John wrote an in-depth explanation of several versions of the 5x5 program. Bill Starr also created a popular 5x5 plan that focused primarily on the power clean, bench press, and back squat. We're going to take a look at one of the very first 5x5 routines to be published, originally written in 1960 by Reg Park in his manual Strength & Bulk Training for Weight Lifters and Body Builders. The late Reg Park was a threetime Mr. Universe winner and he was one of the first bodybuilders to really push the size envelope by competing at a massive 225 pounds in the 1950s and '60s. Oh yeah, Park is also the number one bodybuilder that little Arnie from Austria admired, respected, and hoped to someday look like. Upon seeing Park on a magazine cover for the first time, Schwarzenegger has said, "He was so powerful and rugged-looking that I decided right then and there I wanted to be a bodybuilder, another Reg Park." Reg Park's Three Phase 5x5 Program Phase One 45-degree back extension 3x10 Back squat 5x5 Bench press 5x5 Deadlift 5x5 Rest 3-5 minutes between the last 3 sets of each exercise. Train three days per week for three months. Phase Two for Bodybuilders* 45-degree back extension 3-4x10 Front squat 5x5 Back squat 5x5 Bench press 5x5 Standing barbell shoulder press 5x5 High pull 5x5 Deadlift 5x5 Standing barbell calf raise 5x25 Rest 2 minutes between sets. . followed by three sets of 225x5. He suggested increasing weights at approximately the same interval. for example: Back squat: first set 135x5. Train three days per week for three months. and included lunges and power cleans. Train three days per week for three months. Park had a different set of recommended exercises for aspiring Olympic weightlifters. It used a few different sets and reps. Phase Three for Bodybuilders 45-degree back extension 4x10 Front squat 5x5 Back squat 5x5 Standing barbell shoulder press 5x5 Bench press 5x5 Bent-over barbell row 5x5 Deadlift 5x3 Behind-the-neck press or one-arm dumbbell press 5x5 Barbell curl 5x5 Lying triceps extension 5x8 Standing barbell calf raise 5x25 Rest 2 minutes between sets. As Park explained it. 5x5 includes two progressively heavier warm-up sets and three sets at the same weight. second set 185x5. * After the basic Phase One. Interestingly.. but the portions would be reduced. Once you can complete all sets. For the 45-degree back extensions. 175 for the second.. salad. That's the entire plan.. increase your poundage each set while still getting all sets and reps. eat steak. "get out of the gym in 60 minutes.When you can complete the last 3x5 at a given weight. or you'll sacrifice growth hormone levels!" warnings of today. 1x3. saying that it encouraged a negative mindset when attempting other heavy. followed by three progressively heavier attempts at a one-rep max. His main sources of nutrition would include whole milk. or even fun. protein powders. when you've been training consistently for six months. to do for the long term. it wasn't uncommon for these workouts to last two to three hours. Park recommended plenty of sleep and plenty of food. allowed to test for one-rep max at the end of each phase. You are. With such a high volume of work. Only then can you break out some curls for the girls. it's okay to break the rules. Take the next four days off from the gym. whole eggs. and a free Sunday to lie in bed. especially if you have a free Saturday with nothing else to do. he was strongly against training to failure. and liver tablets. and 215 for the third. once. and then begin the next phase of training. While it might not be ideal. however. begin without added weight. That's typical of the training in that era. and curse us for daring you to try this plan. orange juice. when was the last time you had a juggernaut session and really tried to destroy yourself in the gym? Once in a while. Park and his training partner often used 135 for the first set.. near-maximal lifts. Talk about volume training? Mike Mentzer just rolled over in his grave. . the foods would remain the same when cutting. As far as recovery goes. and 235-255 for the fourth. and it's a far cry from the. Notice. wheat germ. Also. and 3x1 (for each lift). Park recommends two warm-up sets (1x5 and 1x3). there really aren't any isolation exercises until the third phase. Does that make it much worse than programs designed today? Is this absurdly busy training day dangerous. So the max testing day would be: 1x5. and it's a doozy. guaranteed to break you emotionally and scare you out of the gym? Not necessarily. steak. increase the weight on all five sets 5-10 pounds. This explains why today's bodybuilders are nowhere near as strong as the old school bodybuilders like Reg Park. Heavy weight training equals more recruited muscle fibers." — Reg Park If your goal is to develop a powerful physique that is every bit as strong as it looks. They think that when focusing on getting bigger. Reg Park. Universe. Reg is the man to emulate. if you want to develop a lean and strong physique. you'll either solve them or reach a compromise. but if you think about your problems hard enough and logically enough. one should focus on the muscle not how much weight one is using.The Reg Park Way To Serious Size And Strength by Mike Mahler "Training is like life. Reg didn't separate strength training from bodybuilding. you can't do much better than to follow the example of three time Mr. He believed that in order to get bigger. you must get stronger. Rule #1: If you want to get bigger. Arnold Schwarzenegger often refers to Reg Park as his childhood idol and the greatest inspiration and influence on his own bodybuilding and life successes. which equals more . you get your ups and downs. Even if you don't care about getting bigger. In this article we'll take a closer look at Reg's training philosophy and cover his very popular and highly effective 5x5 program as well. then get stronger Many people training today separate hypertrophy training from strength training. which he called the primary strength exercises. Build a strong foundation on the three primary exercises. Many trainees avoid doing any direct lower back work. Most gyms have hyperextension equipment. ironically. just keep your calories in check. Personally. The only difference. The bottom line is if you have a weak back. Rule #2: Focus on compound movements Reg believed in spending time on exercises that produce the maximum return. Start with a couple sets of ten with your bodyweight and then start adding weight. I'd replace the bench press with the standing military press. There are better problems to focus your attention on. high pulls. Reg believed that all training should include prone hyperextensions to keep the lower back strong and healthy. Then.muscular growth. you know how important the lower back is to overall strength and power. The cornerstone of his training was a healthy diet of squats. Reg knew what he was doing. Most trainees won't go wrong with a focus on the three primary lifts. For most trainees. Progress slowly and carefully. and your squat and deadlift up to 400 pounds. and if you're lucky your gym has Louie Simmons' reverse hyper machine. We generate a lot of power from our backs and just because we can't see it in the mirror doesn't mean that it's not important. If you don't want to get bigger. worrying about getting too big is like worrying about making too much money. To avoid lower back pain and to build a strong and powerful physique. Once you get your bench up to 300 pounds. Regardless. and throw in some pull-ups or bent over rows to balance the upper body. says Reg. Secondary or supplementary exercises were cleans. . you have a weak body. you're using it as a preventive measure to avoid lower back injuries and keep your back strong and healthy. while the bodybuilder should ramp up high quality nutrition in order to pack on more size. The result of a healthy diet of squats. because they don't want to strain their back. then add some supplementary exercises to round out your program and keep progress coming. and bench presses. deadlifts. deadlifts. Rule #3 Don't let your lower back hold you back If you've ever had a lower back injury. You're not trying to set a PR on the hyperextension by seeing how much weight you can use for one rep. you'll notice a big difference in how your physique looks. and bench presses. and had the results to back it up. is that the pure strength trainer shouldn't increase caloric intake to avoid putting on size. and clean and presses. they get lower back pains. as it'll help . and ready to take on the world after each workout. Gradual progression is the way to go rather than having the illusion that strength and size will come in leaps and bounds. Most people would find this absurd. Rule 4: Confidence is critical for increased size and strength According to Reg. working less and making more. He stated that if you worry a lot. You can always add more if necessary. If you train to failure too often. Especially if you haven't done any direct lower back before. deadlifts. Reg also believed that training to failure too often is a big mistake. Rather than going overboard and burning out. focus on the minimum training dose that'll produce the maximum result. If you feel weak and defeated. and change jobs. Rule 5: You must know yourself to get the most out of training Reg was a big believer in self-analysis. your confidence will plummet. and what you're capable of. then you're doing something wrong.The Louie Simmons reverse hyperextension machine After a few weeks of lower back work. You should feel strong. don't be surprised if you notice a strength increase on overhead presses. and miss a lot of lifts. an effective training program focuses on increasing confidence. and so will your strength and size. Have a long-term approach and enjoy the process. Training is no different. empowered. and squats. Working smart means making more money for the same amount of effort. then you'll find great benefit from training. or better yet. Imagine having a job in which you progressively work harder each month to make the same amount of money. You must take the time to find out who you are. Reg referred to the three primary sets as the stabilizer sets. and you'll benefit tremendously. When you can use 200 pounds for the last three sets of five. in which we think that more is better across the board. . Get a relaxation massage at the beginning of your layoff. 180 x 5. For example. If you're strong in the gym but weak in your personal and professional life. but this isn't the 5x5 version that Reg used and recommended. perseverance. Trainees who make the mistake of compartmentalizing their training lives from the rest of their lives miss out on these lessons. right? Yes. You learn a lot about yourself through training that can help you in other areas of your life. when you take some time away from training you can't wait to get back at it and have a renewed enthusiasm to push forward. When you take a layoff. but this generic approach isn't the way to go. thinking that we will be much happier only to want more after we make more. and to allow the body to rest. patience. When you can do five reps on all five sets.remove stress. Don't increase the weight until you can do five reps for all five sets. Don't read training books and magazines all day and analyze your workouts. 200 x 3 x 5. Just pick a weight and use it for five sets. Find a high quality bodyworker who can give you a personalized massage based on the state you're in. training must be balanced with adequate recovery. Reg believed that layoffs are important to build up reserves. Just as it is beneficial to take time off from work and enjoy a vacation it is critical to take a training vacation periodically. Regardless. In Reg's 5x5 program. Moreover. it would look like this: 160 x 5. Many serious trainees take this workaholic mentality into the training realm. then you're weak overall. don't even think about training. He or she will know what you need. This allows for a gradual progression and an avoidance of burning out. and hard work from training. Rule 6: Layoffs and restoration are critical We live in a workaholic society. Immerse yourself in other activities and enjoy the time away from working out. The idea of taking an entire week off would be unthinkable to them. Carry over what you've learned from effective training to other areas of your life and you'll experience the full benefits of training. 185 x 5. Simple. if you're using 200 pounds for the primary sets on the military press. 205 x 3x5. Carry over these skills into your business or job. increase the poundage by five pounds on all five sets to take it to 165 x 5. Many trainees always ask for a deep tissue massage no matter what. the first two sets are warm-ups. Rule 7: Start reaping the benefits of the 5x5 program Most people think they know all about the 5x5 program. A mental break is just as important as a physical break. and the last three are the primary work sets. and help you get a better handle on your life. We feel it's critical to work longer hours to get ahead and make more money. but also not recovering enough. Reg's favorite strategy for packing on strength and size. We learn the power of discipline. not only training far too often. add weight. Barbell squat 5x5 (three minute breaks in between each set) Thursday Hyperextensions 3x10 (one minute breaks) A1) Weighted dip 5x5 A2) Weighted pull-up 5x5 Take two-minute breaks in between each set of A1 and A2. focus on using as much weight as possible for each set. for busy people or trainees with poor recovery) Monday Hyperextensions 3x10 (one minute breaks) A1) Standing barbell military press 5x5 A2) Barbell bent-over row 5x5 Take two-minute breaks in between each set of A1 and A2. Barbell deadlift 5x5 (three minute breaks in between each set) Option 2: (three sessions per week. Unlike many of today's bodybuilders that take very short breaks in between each set.When you can do a given weight for three sets of five. You can start with lighter weights for the first two warm-up sets. for trainees who have more time and adequate recovery) Monday Hyperextensions 3x10 (one minute breaks) . The first two sets are confidence-builders. and are ready to move up. but make sure the poundage jumps from the first to the second set and from the second to the third set are the same. Also. Thus. to acquire the greatest return on your effort. Go back and forth until all of the sets have been completed. Reg recommended 3-5 minute breaks to recover fully from each set. Reg Park-Inspired 5x5 Programs Option 1: (Two sessions per week. Go back and forth until all of the sets have been completed. do one or two more to build up reassurance to attack the three primary sets. if you feel tired on the first confidence-building sets. you've locked that weight in. A1) Standing barbell military press 5x5 A2) Barbell bent-over row 5x5 Take two-minute breaks in between each set of A1 and A2. Barbell deadlift 5x5 (three minute breaks in between each set) Friday Hyperextensions 3x10 (one minute breaks) A1) Incline barbell press 5x5 A2) Dumbbell renegade row 5x5 Take two-minute breaks in between each set of A1 and A2. Repeat until all of the sets have been completed. Barbell squat 5x5 (three minute breaks in between each set) Option 3: (3x per week for advanced trainees who have great recovery abilities) Monday Hyperextensions 3x10 (one minute breaks) Barbell military press 5x5 Weighted pull-ups 5x5 Barbell squat 5x5 Romanian deadlift 5x5 Barbell curl 2x5 Close-grip bench press 2x5 Calf raise 3x12 . Barbell squat 5x5 (three minute breaks in between each set) Wednesday Hyperextensions 3x10 (one minute breaks) A1) Weighted dip 5x5 A2) Weighted pull-up 5x5 Take two-minute breaks in between each set of A1 and A2. Go back and forth until all of the sets have been completed. Repeat until all of the sets have been completed. Wednesday Hyperextensions 3x10 (one minute breaks) Bench press 5x5 Barbell bent-over row 5x5 Power clean 5x3 Barbell deadlift 5x5 Dumbbell curl 2x5 Weighted dip 2x5 Calf Raise 3x12 Friday Hyperextensions 3x10 (one minute breaks) Dumbbell clean and press 5x5 Weighted pull-up 5x5 Barbell squat 5x5 Dumbbell lunge 5x5 Barbell curl 2x5 Close-grip bench press 2x5 Calf raise 3x12 Take one-minute breaks in between each exercise and three-minute breaks in between each set. check out his booklet Strength and Bulk Training for Weightlifters and Bodybuilders. For more information on Reg Park. available at Super Strength Training. Also. Sign up for his free online fitness magazine at his website. About the author Mike Mahler is a strength coach and fitness information provider based in Las Vegas. check out the official Reg Park website. .